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Jerry UberDork
7/10/20 7:37 a.m.

I sold the WRX to help pay for a $13k roof repair where insurance gave me a whole $1800.  Thanks for (almost) nothing Pekin Insurance.  (I switched to USAA Wednesday, better coverage, lower deductible, still cheaper premium.)

Last Thursday night I was looking at the forums just before bed and saw a thread "Cheap 1990 Miata - Dayton OH".  berkeley.  I've been interested in a Miata since the $2017 Challenge in @eastsidemav's car.  I had a space in the garage.  I need to at least take a look.

I expected a ratty rusty car for $3500.  Instead a saw a pretty decent looking car and only asking $1250.  Hm.  I could scrape up $1200 somehow.  Sent an email and assumed I had already missed out.  Instead I had a reply waiting for me the next morning, still available, any question?  I replied I wanted to spare him the usual BS on selling a car online & just asked is it driveable as-is?  Like functioning headlights, turn signals etc & shifting ok?

Fast forward to Friday evening on a test drive.  Nice guy, no hassles.  I tried to offer $1k cash of course but he declined.  I don't blame him.  He could have sold it for $2k or more easily.

Returned Sunday with a notary friend and $1250.  I have the Answer.

He said the paint was "ok".  For 30 years and 168k miles at this price I have no complaints.  (The spots are from a quick rain while I was eating.  Welcome to convertible ownership.)

I think the interior is pretty nice for the age as well.  Looks like it got caught in the rain a few times in its life, going to see if some cleaner can do anything with it.  Maybe seat covers.  I've already bought the cup holder thing that replaces the ashtray part.

I don't have a lot of plans other than driving it occasionally.  Probably an autocross when things level out & I get the feel of the car.  Wouldn't mind different wheels/tires, a cheap roll bar.  And put my vinyl cutter to use.  cool

Nice One, Man!

Agent98 Reader
7/10/20 9:12 a.m.

Scanning the pics carefully for any Star Wars content......

Jerry UberDork
7/10/20 9:43 a.m.

I went to put the top down for the drive home.  It was 95F and sunny, that black anodized metal clip was like a branding iron.  Put a pair of actual gloves in the glove box.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
7/10/20 10:28 a.m.

You have glossy latches? That may be a fairly early car. Later ones were powdercoated IIRC. What are the last six digits of the VIN?

Nice score, it presents well. I have to say I kinda like the gauge cover and shift boot :) Those headlight covers are basically non-functional with a stock intake, but you can sell them for a decent amount via groups like the Rare and Vintage Miata Parts FB group and spend the money on other things :)

Shadeux (Forum Supporter)
Shadeux (Forum Supporter) Dork
7/10/20 10:55 a.m.

Air dam, side lights, cool find!

Jerry UberDork
7/10/20 12:51 p.m.

He mentioned something about the side lights being different.  JDM wink lights or something?  I know the headlight tops are different, I like them.  Probably would have painted them or covered in carbon fiber vinyl anyway.  Did something like that on both MR2's and liked it.

The gauge cover and shift boot are...different.  I don't hate them so they stay for now.  I feel like that gauge cover would be a major hassle to redo with 30 year old plastic clips of some sort.

I'll have to look at the latches again, I just remember anodized/painted black metal and berkeleying hot as lava.  I ended up taking my face mask off and using it like an oven mitt.  Last part of VIN is 138776.  He mentioned it originally had an older version of the 1.6 but sometime had been swapped to a later 1.6, a 6 vs 8 something...  I need to read up on Miata lore.

Also, some vinyl is coming soon but I did order this.  Red 5 standing by:

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner MegaDork
7/10/20 12:58 p.m.

So the side lights are JDM style, yo. They were added by an enthooosiast.

138776 puts it just past the midpoint of 1990 model production. I'm going to guess it was built in early 1990 or maybe December 1989. Probably not the glossy latches. Not that it matters. Metal gets hot either way :)

As for the engine - 1990 cars had what's called a "short nose crank". They could suffer crank nose failure, particularly with a botched timing belt job. Mid-1991, the "long nose crank" was introduced and it sounds like this car got a transplant at some point. You can spot them by counting the slots in the face of the crank pulley. Short nose have four slots, long nose have eight. This matters for some parts such as crankshaft front seals, so if you're ordering parts and you see a mid-1991 break it's important to know which one you have. 

The plastic clips that hold that gauge cover in place are very fragile. Don't remove it if you don't have to.

Jerry UberDork
7/15/20 7:03 a.m.

Did some vinyl work over the weekend.  Decided the Crosstrek was the Imperial car, this one can help the Rebellion.  Also Mazdaspeed didn't seem appropriate.  Added a GRM to the back bumper of course.

bmw88rider (Forum Supporter)
bmw88rider (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
7/15/20 6:24 p.m.

That is a great score for $1200....

Jerry UberDork
7/19/20 6:15 p.m.

Went for a drive today, heard it was National Ice Cream Day, so I found a random ice cream shop in town.  Saw this building artwork and thought it would make for a good background.  Not bad for a sunny HOT humid day.

I had a hell of a time getting the top to latch earlier.  I found a Youtube video on how to adjust the mechanical latches, combined with copious spray white lithium grease and a 10mm wrench (& lots of cussing/pulling/shoving) I got it to latch.  People in an Ohio Miata Facebook group said to leave it up in the sun for awhile.  Asked the PO if there was a trick, he admitted he didn't think he ever adjusted the latches.

I left it in the garage up for a few days, then outside in the sun for a couple more over the weekend.  When I got back from this drive, it latched with zero issues.  Hopefully that's over now.

Patrick (Forum Supporter)
Patrick (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
7/19/20 6:51 p.m.

I should have jumped on this one but glad you got it.

Jerry UberDork
7/29/20 7:11 a.m.

That lasted almost 2 weeks.  I'm done with suction cups, I don't care who makes them.  I had it in the WRX, bought from Summit Racing because the Amazon one was fake and they admitted they have issues with counterfeits.

Luckily I had already ordered a permanent ball mount from Amazon while I tried the suction cup.  Used the sticky pad first, if that fails I don't mind 4 screws into the plastic of a $1200 car.

Gives me a good location and still out of SWMBO's knees.

Also decided to upgrade the yellow pale halogen headlights.  $80 LEDs from Amazon to the rescue.  Still haven't driven at night, but with lower humidity coming up I may try it for a cruise.


rodknock Reader
7/29/20 5:37 p.m.

In reply to Jerry :

Oooh I forgot that I upgraded the sealed beams to the halogen Cibie Z-beams knock-offs. If the Amazon LEDs don't work out you could put different bulbs in the old housings for more/different colored light output. 

JoeTR6 (Forum Supporter)
JoeTR6 (Forum Supporter) Dork
7/29/20 10:30 p.m.

Those are the same sealed beams that a TR6 uses, so I may look into those.  Let us know how they work out.

Jerry UberDork
7/30/20 6:59 a.m.

In reply to rodknock :

I noticed they didn't feel like normal older bulbs, felt like two pieces like a modern car.  Hmm if these don't work perhaps LED bulbs inside those housings.

I did appreciate the fact that it has low and high beam capability as one piece.  Modern cars tend to be two separate bulbs.

Jerry UberDork
8/2/20 7:01 a.m.

Another project last weekend, someone on the Facebook group bought a NB with a black street bar and wanted a chrome one.  He offered the black one for $60.  I asked where he lived, I was interested but I knew I could Amazon something similar for not a lot more.

He told me & asked the same question, then replied he was already coming to my area to buy a trunk rack and could bring me the bar for the $60.  Seemed like a good deal to me.  I like the way the black looks with the red car.

We warned me the bar had to go in fairly even or it wouldn't fit.  He was not joking.  I used the Dremel to trim up the plastic bit over the seatbelt mounts, then fought for an hour trying to get this thing in exactly even.  I'd get one side lined up, just barely engaging the threaded rod, lean it forward a little.  Then go to the other side and as soon as I touched it the first side would drop in.  I even tried straddling the console facing backwards and both sides at once.

Finally had a friend come by and do one side while I did the other.  Got both sides slightly engaged, then used a small metal mallet to encourage it a little, one side at a time.

Still thinking about a CAI, even if just for a little noise.  Or a muffler.  It's so quiet.  Probably just paint the wheels dark grey or black, vs $$$ for new ones.  Really trying to stay simple.

Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter)
Pete Gossett (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/2/20 9:27 a.m.

In reply to Jerry :

It's interesting that your car is quiet. My 90 with a stock exhaust sounds almost open. So much so that adding a 4-2-1 header & Magnaflow cat didn't really change the volume or tone. I guess there must not be any packing left in my muffler...

rodknock Reader
8/2/20 9:37 a.m.

I have a questionable cat back with a straight through muffler section that you could have. 

Jerry UberDork
8/2/20 7:23 p.m.

In reply to rodknock :

Hmmm... might take you up on it next weekend.  I'd like a little more noize.

Jerry UberDork
8/5/20 8:01 a.m.

Drove it to work this morning, gotta take advantage of the cooler weather while I can.  Left the top up for the first time, adds a nice blind spot behind me but otherwise it was good, no extra noise.  (55F and 70mph winds...)

Got my first Miata wave.  Older gentleman I pass sometimes with an NC.  Made my day.

Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter)
Professor_Brap (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
8/5/20 8:25 a.m.

This makes me miss my red 90 so bad. 

Jerry UberDork
8/12/20 6:46 a.m.

Up till now I've been impressed with how easy things have been to check and replace.  Assorted light bulbs and the like, even the back up bulbs like boom, right there.  That ended yesterday.

The two interior lights under the dash on either side of the car, neither work.  I thought perhaps the fuse vs both bulbs, but couldn't find the box.  Found the one under the hood, but knew there had to be another for accessories and such.  Google on my phone got me close, photos of the box but no location.  Finally found a post that ended with "My 90 is under the dashboard drivers side, upside down and against the wall".  Oof, and no labels either.  Let my vertigo settle down, try again over a weekend.

I watched a video on how to change the bulbs, saw how easy it was to pop the fixtures out.  So I popped out the passenger side, found a broken wire.  That's obviously not right.  Tried pressing the wire into place but no light.  Popped out the driver side, not plugged in...  Ok, also no bulb so I swapped bulbs, that took awhile.  The video mentioned the PITA to plug back into connection in the dash, he wasn't kidding.  They couldn't make that wire 2" longer?

Still didn't work.  But now I didn't know if the bulb was any good, the connections were good, or the fuse even functional.  So much for "this shouldn't take long".

accordionfolder Dork
8/12/20 7:32 a.m.

In reply to Jerry :

Your car lost it's fuse cover along the way, they're labeled on that (and it has a little fuse removal tool!). My car also has glossy latches, I always just assumed they were cheap aftermarket units. Great looking car! A cheap Miata is a wonderful thing!

Jerry UberDork
8/12/20 9:25 a.m.

In reply to accordionfolder :

I found a diagram online at least, printed it for this weekend's adventure.  And thanks!  Drove it to work again today, I may keep this thing longer than I expected.  Never considered myself a convertible fan till now.

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